In moments of distress, how do you respond? I imagine a few will say they "hold their cool, take a deep breath, and redouble their efforts". Others will respond they "freak out a little, working up a little bit of a tizzy, and then cry when it gets even worse". The rest of us are somewhere in between those two responses. We don't hold our "cool" because that departed from us about ten steps back. We find it just good fortune we are even taking any more breath and we certainly have no more effort to throw into the mix, so why bother! The past couple of times we freaked out didn't give us much hope for change and just sapped us of the energy we had left, so we down-play that one. The tizzy might have seemed like a good idea at the time because we were letting off steam, but it only complicated things. Crying makes our heads ache and our make-up run, so that just isn't going to serve us well. There has to be some middle-ground somewhere in between being so proud we cannot admit we need help with our trust and being so paralyzed by our fears we never take a step anywhere!
Be still. It is I. You have nothing to fear. "Lord, if it is really You, then command me to meet You on the water." Indeed, come. Peter stepped out of the boat onto the water and began walking toward Jesus. But when he remembered how strong the wind was, his courage caught in his throat and he began to sink. (Matthew 14:27-30 VOICE)
Five little words we might do well to latch onto today: Be still - it is I. At both ends of our "response spectrum" you will not a lack of "stillness", right? One end is action, action, action - the other is shaking, trembling, and oh my! Neither is really a place of "stillness" or "peace". The disciples had set out on the water - probably without much time to tell their wives and children where they were headed. Peter and the disciples were simply trying to get from one side of the water to the other when a storm suddenly set the boat to rocking. There were no "stabilizers" on those small fishing boats of the day to help them ride out the rough seas. In fact, the waters, wind, and resulting waves were threatening to not only get them way off course, but could possibly cause them to capsize.
It is kind of like that for us many times - the things we cannot control bring such chaos to our lives we feel we might just capsize and be "lost to the storm" without anyone really knowing where we are. That almost makes "rescue" seem unlikely because no one really expected a seasoned fisherman to be out on such rough seas - they learned quite early to "read the weather" and avoid such circumstances. Some of us go through life trying so hard to "read the weather", but we find no matter how well we thought we had read the "signs", something happens and we are getting a little freaked out by the mounting storm. Worse - no one knows we are in the boat!
Peter and the disciples recognize someone coming toward them in the midst of the storm. At first, the image is blurry and not easily recognizable - as is often the case when the storm seems to obliterate our normally quite clear focus. They think it is a ghost, maybe as though it were a "premonition" of some kind they were going to be welcomed into the after-life by some spirit gliding across the waters. Our imaginations get the best of us in the midst of the storm, don't they? We think all the most catastrophic things and lose total grounding with reality. What they saw is what we can all see if we look beyond the storm and don't allow our minds to overrule our rational thought - the one they trusted, served, and knew to be their constant companion - Jesus.
Two things are quite visible here as we consider this moment with the disciples: 1) The paralysis of fear; and 2) The questioning of trust in the midst of fear. Most of the disciples stayed on the boat, even when Jesus told them they had nothing to fear. They couldn't break free from the bonds of their "perceived safety" within the walls of that tiny boat. Fear paralyzes us - keeping us bound to what we "know" we can count on. Remember this - just a few short moments before, they were even afraid of the boat - but now they are going to trust in it again! Fear can cause us to trust in what isn't all that trustworthy in the midst of rocky and uncertain circumstances! The one who does take a step outside of the "safety" of the boat is momentarily caught up in the delight of having taken the first steps, but then realizes the "uncertainty" of faith's footing. Faith isn't based on what we see around us, but on who we see right in front of us - the place we fix our gaze determines the soundness of our footing. As long as we focus on the circumstance, we will be distracted from that which holds us on solid footing!
Two things restore our footing - Christ's imparted stillness and trusting in the "I" we behold before our "eye". Just sayin!
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